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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Communiqué August 16, 2012

Confront Reality - Behavior #8 of High Trust Leaders

-Keith Smith, associate vice president, Agricultural Administration and director, OSU Extension

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. – Max DePree, Chairman and CEO, Herman Miller

Confront Reality – is about taking the tough issues head-on. It’s about sharing the bad news as well as the good, naming the “elephant in the room,” addressing the “sacred cows”, and discussing the “undiscussables.” As you do these things appropriately, you build trust – fast. People know you’re being genuine and authentic. You’re not shying away from the tough stuff. You’re directly addressing the difficult issues that are in people’s minds and hearts and affect their lives, according to Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust.

The opposite of Confront Reality is to ignore it, to act as though it doesn’t exist. The counterfeit is to act as though you’re confronting reality when you’re actually evading it. It’s focusing on busywork while skirting the real issues. Whenever you fail to deal with the real issues for any reason, people tend to see you in one of two ways: They see you as lacking in character (you’re not being open or honest, not being transparent, not talking straight) or lacking in competence (you’re clueless, naïve, incompetent; you don’t even know what the real issues are). Either way, it doesn’t inspire trust.

When you openly Confront Reality, it affects speed and cost in at least two important ways. First it builds the kind of relationships that facilitate open interaction and fast achievement. Second, instead of having to wrestle with all the hard issues on your own while trying to paint a rosy picture for everyone else, you actually engage the creativity, capability, and synergy of others in solving those issues. Ideas flow freely. Innovation and collaboration take place. Solutions come much faster and better, and are implemented with the understanding, buy-in, and often the excitement of others involved in the problem-solving process.

It is best not to wait to confront reality. It doesn’t get easier. It doesn’t get better. And, in some cases, if you don’t get the relevant information to people and act quickly, you start losing options. You’re into damage control.

In confronting the brutal facts, the good-to-great companies left themselves stronger and more resilient, not weaker and more dispirited. There is a sense of exhilaration that comes in facing head-on the hard truths and saying, “We will never give up. We will never capitulate. It might take a long time, but we will find a way to prevail.” Likewise, you can say, “Here are the facts. Let’s deal with them. Let me also tell you why we’ll prevail,” or “Here’s how I believe we can move this team forward.” Quoted from Jim Collins in Good to Great.

Over the last three years administrative cabinet has dealt with several challenges in our organization: restructuring, refinement, and the recent information related to market level salaries for educators are all examples of facing reality. We have been honest and open while not ignoring or "sugar coating" the situation. We let the system know what's happening and tried not to hide anything. We strive to be transparent.


  • The next time you feel reluctant to confront reality at work or at home, explore your feelings. Are you hesitant because of fear of the outcome or fear of pain? Consider the consequences of not confronting reality.
  • Work on being completely honest with yourself. Take on the challenge of aligning your life with the principles that will create the results you want to have.
  • Is there some issue that’s getting in the way of creating an open, high-trust relationship? Consider confronting the issue head-on, with respect.

Summary: Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables.” Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead out courageously in conversation. Remove the “sword from their hands.” Don’t skirt the real issues. Don’t bury your head in the sand.

Using eXtension Search Tools

eXtension has two powerful search tools that any OSUE professional can use to find research based information. 

  • searches most Extension websites in the U.S. for materials. There is an option to add our websites to the search engine (see the site). Currently 1,008 Extension websites are part of the search engine.
  • has a search box in the upper right hand corner. It searches all information created by the 70+ eXtension Community of Practices.

To help improve your ability to assess the reliability of online information may also want to watch this August 21 webinar:

Upcoming Webinars Hosted by eXtension: Upcoming and recorded Extension related webinars can be found at The site features webinars created by Extension services across the U.S.

Ask an Expert: For directions on using Ask an Expert can be found a

Staff Advisory Council Recognition Awards - Nominations Due August 31st

It is time to nominate your outstanding co-workers for the 2012 Staff Recognition: Above and Beyond Awards and Shirley Brooks-Jones Award. This is brought to you by the CFAES Staff Advisory Council.

Nomination forms are due August 31! Questions can be directed to any CFAES SAC member or directly to Kathy Mann, (

CFAES Computing Device Standard and Agreement

OSU Extension adopted the CFAES Mobile Computing Device Standard and Agreement (hereafter referred to as the agreement), as endorsed by the CFAES Vice President's Cabinet and the CFAES Department Chairs. The purpose of the agreement is to define guidelines and procedures for connecting mobile computing devices to CFAES and/or university applications and services for the performance of university business.

Mobile computing devices can be wireless devices such as tablet computers, smartphones, and other devices with Wi-Fi or cellular connections. The overriding goals of the agreement are to position CFAES and Extension to realize the benefits and efficiencies associated with mobile computing devices, to assist employees with IT security policy compliance, and to mitigate risks through the appropriate application of policies and procedures.

The agreement applies to all CFAES and Extension faculty and staff (employees) who utilize university owned or personally owned mobile computing devices to access CFAES and/or university applications and services via wireless means for the performance of university business.

The I/T technicians are actively engaged in supporting mobile computing devices for Extension professionals. If you are using a mobile computing device to connect to CFAES and/or university applications and services, the technicians will ask you to complete and sign the agreement. A copy of the signed agreement must be kept in each employee's personnel folder.

 If you have questions about the agreement or the support of mobile computing devices, please contact your I/T technician directly.

Environmental Professionals Network

The School of Environment and Natural Resources is launching the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) with two main components: multi-disciplinary interaction and networking through a community-oriented website (, and a monthly second Tuesdays breakfast club on campus featuring great speakers and offering additional networking opportunities.

The EPN will strengthen SENR's support of people and organizations engaged in environmental management across Ohio and beyond. The online querying capability of the EPN will facilitate quick access to information and knowledge from network colleagues who share a commitment to excellence in environmental management. The EPN online is free and participants can set their own level of involvement.

Our speaker at the first breakfast club will be Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the 4 million-member National Wildlife Federation, which is actively engaged in many critical environmental issues. I hope that you and others will want to be part of initiating the EPN Tuesday, September 11, at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center. Go to for information/registration.

If you have questions, contact EPN coordinator David Hanselmann  or (; 614-247-1908).

NeXC 2012 Early Registration Ends September 1

eXtension is excited to host the 2012 National eXtension Conference, SPUR ON the Evolution of Extension in Oklahoma City, October 1-5. To register visit

National Outreach Scholarship Conference October 1 thru 3 - Registration Deadline September 14

Registration is open for the National Outreach Scholarship Conference (NOSC), which will be hosted by University of Alabama. The 2012 theme is: Partner. Inspire. Change. Three tracks will explore:

  • Voice of the Community Partner
  • Voice of the Faculty and Staff
  • Voice of the Students

“NOSC’s goal is to work collaboratively to build strong university-community partnerships anchored in the rigor of scholarship and designed to help build community capacity.” More information about the conference, pre-conference workshops, and potential attendees is available online.